A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday issued a bench warrant for the arrest and production in court of Chairman of Innoson Nigeria Ltd, Innocent Chukwuma and two others charged with fraud.
The defendants were charged before Justice Ayokunle Faji.
The police authority had charged them with an alleged N2.4 billion shipping fraud, but the Attorney-General of the Federation later took over the case.
Others named in the charge are Charles Chukwuma, Maximian Chukwura, Mitsui Osk Lines and Anajekwu Sunny.
The prosecutor, Julius Ajakaiye, had urged the court to order the arrest of Innoson and others, for failing to appear in court to take their plea to the criminal charge.
He had said that the charge was on the defendants by an order for substituted service on February 8, 2016, following the AGF’s take-over of the case.
Mr Ajakaiye said that since then, the third and fourth defendants had been coming to court, while the first, second and fifth defendants had refused, failed and neglected to appear in court till date.
He had argued that the defendants were yet to take their pleas and so, should be compelled to appear.
Mr Ajakaiye had also urged the court to grant his application by ordering their arrest.
The team of defence counsel had on their part, urged the court to dismiss the application as the defendants were not properly arraigned before the court, adding that the court lacked jurisdiction to do same.
After arguments, the court had then adjourned the case for a ruling.
Delivering his ruling on Monday, Justice Faji first highlighted the various arguments and submissions as canvassed by respective parties.
Citing the case of Olisa Metuh, the court held that trial ought to go on in a criminal case.
The court held that it is clear that the first, second and fifth defendants have not appeared in the criminal charge and consequently held that the application by the prosecution has merit.
“I hereby order as follows: Warrant of arrest is hereby issued against Innocent Chukwuma, Charles Chukwuma and Sunny Anajekwe.
The court adjourned the case until June 28 for a report.
In the charge, the prosecution accused the defendants of conspiring to unlawfully falsify shipping clearance documents.
They were accused of “uttering” (presenting) the alleged falsified shipping documents as collateral to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc to allegedly obtain a loan of N2.4billion.
The prosecution claimed that the defendants committed the offence at Apapa wharf on October 10, 2013.
The alleged offence is contrary to sections 1(2) (c) and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17, Laws of the Federation 2004.